Blake Dowling: Flying the friendly skies of Florida

Bottom View of Several Passenger Airplanes Flying In The Blue Sky.
Air travel has not changed that much. However, we as consumers have.

This week, I flew Silver Airways to a conference in Ft. Lauderdale. I was giving a cybersecurity presentation at the Florida Association of Community Health Centers annual conference Monday morning, so I took a flight (the only flight) late Sunday night from Tallahassee to make sure I was there ready to start.

Awesome event, by the way. The team at FACHC is first class.

Thank you, Nicole, Brittany, Jonathan, Ben and the entire team at FACHC for the invitation to speak at your conference.

As we hit our cruising altitude of 15,000 feet, I thought that was a little low. Surely, we would be going higher, I thought, as the pilot said we are not going higher, and to stop calling me Shirley.

That joke reminds me, doesn’t this plane sound like the plane in the movie “Airplane?”

Fun fact for movie buffs out there, they used a propeller sound in the film as a joke — as the plane was a jet. Oh, Hollywood, always so clever.

I wondered (very seriously) when the last time was a commercial flight crashed in Florida as we bobbed and wove through the night with very little air conditioning.

I also wondered if this craft saw any action in the Pacific in the big war, Iwo Jima?

Or maybe the European theater, D-Day? It definitely had a WW2 vibe.

All kidding aside, it was a prop plane, and it was loud, but we got there safely, and that is what matters on our plane, an ATR-42 600.

Flying Silver was something else besides the type of aircraft, it was nostalgia. No kiosks. You check in with a person, no apps, no in-flight wireless and a prop plane reminded me of a lot of flying as a kid.

I lived in Dothan, Alabama with mom, and dad who lived in Houston, so I was always jumping on an ASA (Delta Connection) tiny plane and rolling to Atlanta to catch a flight to Houston.

As they said then — and it’s still true today in many cases — from most cities in the South, to get to hell, you must change planes in Atlanta.

I loved the Atlanta airport; with my Delta Unaccompanied Minor button on, I was invincible.

It was pretty much a license for the 10-year-old me to wreak havoc, and hijack the little carts (the ones that beep loud and try to run you over). I bet I was super fun to be around all the while blasting Ratt on my Walkman and chewing Big League Chew by the pound with a diesel-powered Southern accent.

Back to Florida.

When was the last crash? I looked it up; the last commercial crash was in 1996, Value Jet Flight 592 from Miami to Atlanta.

I certainly flew with them many times during the 90s. It was very scary and beyond tragic.

On the plus side, it was a long time ago, our skies in Florida have been very safe to fly, thanks to the men and women that work in the world of commercial aviation.

Luckily, Mrs. Dowling does not notice that they are working on the aircraft while we board, bold move Cotton, but it did indeed pay off for them.

Over 70,000 Floridians work in the aviation industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That is a whole lot of jobs and I for one would like to give thanks to those workers.

As patrons of our state’s airlines, we expect perfection — departure, luggage care, comfort, etc. Those are the little things.

The big things are getting people safely from A-Z. It is no little feat to bounce an ATR-42 600 up to 15,000 feet and across the entire state in a little under 2 hours. Beats driving.

Air travel has not changed that much. However, we as consumers have.

People have always been crazy; now we just film them being crazy on a plane so there is evidence, and it makes global news. There is actually a term for it now, it’s called Air Rage. As you would think it involves people losing their minds and forgetting what it means to be a human being while traveling. Similar to road rage and how people act on Twitter or X-thing. Whatever Elon calls it now.

Perhaps today’s column is not just a shoutout to those in the aviation world — and not just my weekly travel journal, or nostalgia trip, although it is those things.

But, most importantly, it is a reminder to be nice.

Use your inside voice (remember that from kindergarten?) when on a plane, help people with their luggage, offer to change seats, and be nice out there in Florida.

That is all, I hope you are flying the friendly skies soon.


Blake Dowling is the CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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